Driving the 22

Driving the 22 north, noon sun and wind
warm on the arm in the ears
through the rolled down window
kd lang’s Hymns rolling too
through the long-grassed foothills
and you beside me,
the baby snoozing in the back seat,
it’s so hard not to feel drowsily,
contentedly alive, river water and campground dust
in the nooks of my elbows, my toes,
on my fingers and the gearshift the sticky sweet reminder
of Okanagan peaches and cherries, like our little red car
summer has stuffed us to the gills.

My eyelids too lazy, want sleep.
I pull off so you can steer us home
both of us believing
we’ve sifted out disaster, the last miles
like sugar through our fingers,
but the deer’s out of the ditch so fast
she’s memory before I see her
dekes once, twice,
slams across the hood, twists
the car to a stop. A moment to figure out
the glass in my lap isn’t windshield,
you’re body isn’t wrapped around the steering wheel,
and the baby is squalling angry only to have been woken
so abruptly. Deer on the road beside us, heaving.

Later, we’ll make a joke out of it–
worse for the deer –
but we both know there’s nothing funny about her
inability to stand, how she sideways heaves herself into the ditch.
Nothing funny about the camping axe you fish from the trunk,
hold for a long time in your hand,
me nursing the baby on the roadside,
pretending not to watch.

What then is there to do but drive home?
Clumps of bloody hair sticking to the hood,
but no one and nothing else holding us
to account, our blind-sided empathy
criminal, the highway and the wind rolling home
without ceremony.

~ Brenda Leifso

Brenda Leifso’s first book of poetry, Daughters of Men, is forthcoming from Brick Books in April, 2008.

2 Responses to “Driving the 22”

  1. this is great – thanks.

  2. […] about at Driving the 22 – blue skies, – Last Updated – 3 minutes ago    Follow This Story   Change Your […]

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